Sitting in a coffee shop in Spokane, I had to shrug off repeated attempts from a wild-haired man at the next table to discuss how the world was going to hell.
He repeatedly ranted about Obama, gun control, Obama, immigration, and more Obama. He had a large study bible that he was marking up with a set of 5 neon highlighters. He also had a copy of some newsletter that was explaining how Obama was an agent of the devil and that the star of the U.S. military is actually a modified Satanic pentagram.
I mentioned that I was from Idaho and he seemed relieved. “Oh good. You guys have lots of militias there, so maybe you’ll be safe.” I admitted that I didn’t know anybody in a militia, but that, yes that is a bit more of what the U.S. founders had in mind when they thought of national defense. I bought up that as much as I was dismayed by Obama’s socialism, America couldn’t last forever and I couldn’t be too upset. Rome only lasted 500 years – far longer than anyone else. We’re not even halfway there. His response of course was to start explaining how history doesn’t matter – we were living in the end times and this would be the last hurrah before the end of the world. He warned me that I would likely lose my job soon. I asked him what he did. He’s a pastor of course.
It seems you can’t brush off eschatology. It ends up driving so many beliefs and choices. It has far reaching implications. I’ve tried most of my life to sweep it under the rug in the name of Christian unity. But alas, what you believe about the future colors everything.
It’s easy to brush off this man, sitting here, but am I that much different from him? Here I am with 5 neon highlighted bookmarks taking notes on Thomas Merton and Rene Girard.
Do I get up off my seat and walk out the door listening just a little harder for the Holy Spirit’s voice? Am I just a bit more apt to embrace my fellow man and not push him away? I hope so.